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Courts react angrily to gang connection allegations

The criminal court condemned allegations by the chair of a presidential inquiry commission.



The criminal court has condemned allegations made by the chair of a presidential inquiry commission about gangs nominating judges, providing private security, and “fixing” trials.

The “dangerous” allegations by Husnu Suood, chair of the commission on unresolved murders and enforced disappearances, were made to “unsettle the nation and enslave the independent judiciary,” the court said in a strongly-worded statement Monday.

Suood was accused of “misusing official capacity for undue benefit,” inciting hatred towards the judiciary, and undermining public confidence in the criminal justice system.

His remarks amounted to contempt of court and fall outside the jurisdiction of the inquiry commission, it added. It was “completely unacceptable” to make such “slanderous” allegations instead of filing complaints with the judicial oversight body.

The court was looking into contempt of court cases, it warned.

In a separate statement, the Supreme Court said it has asked the commission to share information and evidence about Suood’s claims.

Suood, a former attorney general, made the allegations at a press briefing on Sunday. “No matter how well we investigate and send cases, I don’t believe we could have justice with the current judges at the criminal court. I think that’s the view of the whole legal community,” he told reporters.

In some cases gangs had reached “out-of-court settlements” while assault trials were ongoing, he alleged. Rival gangs made peace and “fixed” witness statements to acquit the defendant.

Expressing concern in the wake of Suood’s allegations, the Maldivian Democratic Party – the largest party in the ruling coalition – reiterated commitment to pursuing judicial reform.

The commission on murders and enforced disappearances was formed by President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih on his first day in office to find the truth behind high-profile murders and the abduction of a journalist.

Seeking justice in particular for the murders of murders of lawmaker Afrasheem Ali and liberal blogger Yameen Rasheed and the abduction of Maldives Independent journalist Ahmed Rilwan was a campaign pledge of the MDP candidate.

The commission was mandated with conducting “a free, independent and trustworthy investigation” into cases between January 1, 2012 and November 17, 2018 that were “not properly investigated for various reasons.”